I’m Right on Time and You’re Speaking My Language {And That Makes it Hard to Love You}

{This is the sixth of twelve in a guest blog series I am hosting through mid March. The series will zero in on a variety of themes from my book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The writers of these posts are people I deeply admire for their wisdom and their constant seeking of Christ’s Kingdom on behalf of their neighbors both near and far. This particular post was written by my sister-in-law, Kristin Fraser. Last year, Kristin and her husband James traveled to eleven countries in eleven months through the missions organization World Race. Today she shares a little bit about their time overseas and their transition back to the United States. Her words are dear to my heart, as we went through the same kind of transition as I was writing Here Goes Nothing!}

{This is the sixth of twelve in a guest blog series I am hosting through mid March. The series will zero in on a variety of themes from my book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The writers of these posts are people I deeply admire for their wisdom and their constant seeking of Christ’s Kingdom on behalf of their neighbors both near and far.

This particular post was written by my sister-in-law, Kristin Fraser. Last year, Kristin and her husband James traveled to eleven countries in eleven months through the missions organization World Race. Today she shares a little bit about their time overseas and their transition back to the United States. Her words are dear to my heart, as we went through the same kind of transition as I was writing Here Goes Nothing!}

That boy in Nepal.

I picked him up as he huddled there crying, the old lady yelling at him about something we did not understand, in a language none of us knew. I knelt, I gathered, I lifted. He fought me a bit, pushed back, not understanding. Then calming down he sunk into my shoulder. Face pressed into my sweatshirt to hide from the lady, still yelling. I walked past the woman, my heart aching for the Nepali boy who was cowering in my arms, wearing the same outfit I'd seen him wearing the past five days.

The woman could have been scolding him for trying to steal our things when we were not looking, for running through her rice field, for not being in school, or maybe for murdering his entire family. I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.

He needed love and protection and that is all that I understood.

We walked a few yards away from the lady’s house; she didn’t follow. He peeked out. I tickled him and flipped him upside down. Laughter rang out.

***

My husband and I received the opportunity to spend eleven months overseas working and living in eleven different countries.

It was an amazing time of growing and serving. I am very much a believer that everyday and everywhere is a mission field, but there is something special about a time where we also step away from our everyday jobs, household chores, and regularly scheduled programming. I will forever cherish the year I got to spend focusing on just the big things, the important things: the following Christ and the growing spiritually, mentally, and emotionally things.

It was hard to go overseas; it was a sacrifice. But now that we have been home six months, I want to let you in on a little secret: I think doing missions during my day- to-day life in my own city and my own culture is even harder. It definitely is not easier.

***

Now that I am back in Norwegian North Dakota I throw on my t-shirt and "Oakley" sunglasses from Thailand to block out the blinding white of the dazzling snow and the reflectively pale people. I drive myself to work, to the gym, and to home. I am back to a “normal” schedule that measures time and a “normal” culture that speaks my language.

And those two things make it incredibly hard to love on those around me.

Time; I had plenty of it on the World Race.

And the other great thing? All of the countries I went to had one cultural thing in common - no one was ever on time, nothing started on time, and relationships were more important than being on time.

In the States? You can find me like Smeagol, hunched over my watch, stroking it and muttering “My Precious”. The traffic better move fast enough, the line better move quickly enough, your youtube video better be under 3 minutes, and that prayer better wrap up quickly.

I think back to one winter day I saw a man get into his vehicle at the grocery store. His car had Arizona plates, and was making that dreaded "It's Too Cold to Start" sound. I had jumper cables; I could help!

Then I checked my watch, My Precious, and rationalized that I had somewhere to be. Someone else would help out. As I drove away I mentally patted myself on the back just for being so nice that I thought about helping. ***insert eye roll***

I have a hard time trusting that God will take care of my schedule and surrendering the “I am busy and need to go” attitude I find so easy to adopt. I am glad I had time to spare in Nepal. If I had a job to get to I probably would have walked right past that boy who God gave me the opportunity show love to. 

Being on time. It can make it hard to stop and show love to others.

And what's worse at this than time?

Speaking the same language.

I miss interpreters. You know, the people you hire to carefully think out what you are going to say before you say it. Looking back, I realize it is easier to love someone you cannot communicate with. At least, it makes it harder to judge them.

When we first came home it felt so weird to be able to eavesdrop on every conversation. At first, I was so excited and would listen in to everything I could. However, listening quickly turned into judging. I could judge that mom based on how she spoke to a child. I could judge that man based on how he spoke to that waitress. I could cringe at the ugly things that couple was saying to each other.

I could easily point on the “bad people” and the “good people” after a few sentences. And what did this mean for my desire to love others? It meant that I had an excuse not to love the “bad people.”

How often am I the man in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18 who is overjoyed when his debt is forgiven, only to turn around and hold a debt against someone else?

I think of the way I instantly judge and doubt anyone on the street holding a cardboard sign.

The thought that pops into my head is: “If I give them money, they will just spend it on booze. I bet they ruined their own life and deserve this anyway.” But the homeless man in Guatemala who was begging on the street? I mustered up my best Spanglish to tell him God loves him as I dropped my coins into his hat. I asked him his name and prayed with him. I had no context that allowed me to judge.

It is so much easier to hand out judgment than to hand out grace.

I need to learn how to trust and surrender. I need to trust that God loves the “good people” and the “bad people” and that I need to surrender my “right” to judge others. I am just as broken and need just as much grace. I am glad that in Nepal I had no way to judge the little boy or the old lady. If I had known why he was being yelled at, would I have just decided he deserved it?

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you. This is My command: Love each other. {John 15:11-17}

God trusts us with His plans. He surrendered His life for us. He did all of this to love and protect us. Now He calls us to come and do the same. Why? Not because He wants me to be late for everything. No, He wants to give me joy and joy complete. I will never find this joy while I cling on to what I think is best and what I think is just.

Loving others often makes very little sense. Lucky for us, God never once told us to be sensible people.

 

Grace and Peace,

Kristin

{Bio: In this corner - once voted most likely to use the term "baller" most often, standing 5'10 and weighing whatever I gosh-darn please, is Kristin "Kris" Fraser. And yes, I do all my own announcing. My husband, we'll call him Jim-Dear, and I live in Fargo, ND (yes like the movie) and have for most of our 5 year marriage. I love being adventurous and active. My time is often filled with camping, hiking, outdoors adventures, leading youth group, playing guitar, singing on the praise team, and a Muay Thai class (aka kickboxing). My biggest adventure was an 11 month mission trip that took us to 11 different countries on three different continents. It pressure-cooked our marriage, our spiritual life, and our emotional growth -- launching us into so much growth. Now the challenge is learning how to survive back in the States and live out the biggest of all adventures, the Great Commission.}

{Bio: In this corner - once voted most likely to use the term "baller" most often, standing 5'10 and weighing whatever I gosh-darn please, is Kristin "Kris" Fraser. And yes, I do all my own announcing. My husband, we'll call him Jim-Dear, and I live in Fargo, ND (yes like the movie) and have for most of our 5 year marriage. I love being adventurous and active. My time is often filled with camping, hiking, outdoors adventures, leading youth group, playing guitar, singing on the praise team, and a Muay Thai class (aka kickboxing). My biggest adventure was an 11 month mission trip that took us to 11 different countries on three different continents. It pressure-cooked our marriage, our spiritual life, and our emotional growth -- launching us into so much growth. Now the challenge is learning how to survive back in the States and live out the biggest of all adventures, the Great Commission.}